Investigating the Wreck of the Kad'yak: Alaska's First Underwater Archaeology Project

Wreck of the Kad'yak Quick Links

Taking a Video of the anchor
Dave McMahan shoots video while Tane Casserley photographs an anchor.

In August 2003, the remains of the Russian-American Company bark Kad'yak were discovered off the coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska. This is the oldest vessel discovered to date in Alaskan waters. A multi-disciplinary team was formed to study the Kad'yak's remains. Participants included people from the Kodiak Maritime Museum, the Baranov Museum, the Alutiiq Museum, the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service in Kodiak, and East Carolina University.

In February 2004, the group received a grant from NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration to investigate and document the wreck site. The fieldwork, scheduled to take place during the summer of 2004, is likely to be the first stage of repeated work on the site. Primary goals for the first season are mapping and documenting the anatomy of the site, and to develop management strategies, including comprehensive interpretation of the site for the general public. For more information about various aspects of this project and about underwater archaeology in general, follow the links below.

Panorama of Icon Bay
panorama of Icon Bay

The buoy marks the main anchor of the Kad'yak. Photo by Tane Casserley

Russian Translation - Investigating the Wreck of the Kad'yak: Alaska's First Underwater Archaeology Project


Oldest Shipwreck in Alaska Discovered off Kodiak
July 22, 2004

Divers working eighty feet below the surface of Monk's Lagoon off Kodiak Island, Alaska have identified the remains of the Russian-American Company ship Kad'yak lost in 1860. The 132-foot bark built in Lubeck, Germany in 1851 was headed for San Francisco carrying 350 tons of ice when she struck an uncharted rock on March 30 and quickly filed with water. The ice kept the vessel afloat for three days. Captain Illarion Archimandritof ordered the crew into the boats, saving all hands. Attempts to tow the ship towards shore using row boats failed. The Kad'yak drifted about six miles before settling to the bottom at Monk's Lagoon on Spruce Island. to read more...